Dontnod Entertainment is a very interesting game development studio. They have been the creators of some mesmerizing projects that have become in many ways cults classics, as they have been flawed yet intriguing concepts. They’ve crafted the third-person action/adventure title Remember Me, which if memory serves correctly I reviewed and gave an 8.0 despite its flawed premise. They’ve also created the episodic tale behind Life Is Strange which has received critical acclaim for the most part. While they seem to have an affinity for time-based gimmicks and mechanics, their next title seeks to venture to a completely different genre- that of an action role-playing adventure set in early 20th century England.
I’ve been a fan of both of their previous projects despite their limitations and some polarization due to their inherent flaws. However, Vampyr strikes me as a truly intriguing new idea and I hope it can deliver. There are undoubtedly some pitfalls to avoid along the way and I could very easily see this particular game being either their worst yet or falling into some of the same issues they’ve engaged before, however I’d also like to remain optimistic about its chances. As a history buff of sorts, the premise for the narrative alone is intriguing because it is set during the early 20th century in a world ravaged by influenza and strife. The fact that your character is a doctor and vampire truly should make for some memorable morality checks along the way.
Based on the gameplay that I’ve been able to witness thus far, I can already see some of the same elements that plagued Remember Me’s gameplay. Despite Vampyr being less action-oriented than Remember Me’s brawling combat was, the combat itself still looks stiff and even boring at times. Admittedly, it has a way to go until completion, however I hope they can iron these kinks out. Another area of concern is the basic animation of characters. While the voice work that I’ve heard thus far has seemed okay and passable, I’ve noticed time and time again that speech does not line up whatsoever with characters’ mouths and that their movements often come off as jerky and lurching. These two issues alone account for a huge amount of ground in games as animation and fluidity of control are key.
It would be rude of me not to offer some praise as well however, and that is exactly what I’m about to do now. So far I am liking the overall graphical and environmental design of the game. These were also strengths I witnessed in their initial project (Remember Me), as they know how to create both a unique and beautiful look. In this case, it’s a dark and dreary European landscape marred by sickness and chaos. While many areas don’t feature much of a color palette save for shades of brown, grey, black, and darker elements, it works for what the game seeks to convey- a vampire adventure story. While I’ve been able to glean small bits of backstory and information concerning the overarching narrative from a variety of sources, there isn’t much to be known about the story itself quite yet. Therefore, I truly hope Dontnod can deliver both an interesting and meaningful plot and move more towards a better crafted story than their initial game debuted.
As long as they can somehow find ways to not get bogged down in the technical details and to keep the adventure and story fresh and interesting, I could see Vampyr being not only a success but an enjoyable experience. Few can say that about the Spanish flu, in my experience. It has its obvious issues already and the studio has had hit or miss success before with how their games have been received, however I think they’ve had some time to build upon their strengths and I believe this game could be a good one if they continue to work hard and build upon what they’ve already got nailed down. As it stands right now, Vampyr should at least be a middling experience and has no excuse to fail completely unless it does so due to the sheer boredom of combat, tedious storytelling, or bad animation.